Well, it’s been a month this weekend since my heart attack. I’m still struggling a bit and have hit a mental wall. I seem to be stuck in the denial phase of coping with my new circumstances.
But let’s get back to my mental roadblock. I’m kind of worried in my more rational moments about what it might mean for me and my family, even though I am trying to be as positive as possible.
So, objectively, I had a heart attack. I had an 80% blockage in an artery technically called the left anterior descending artery, but which is known in doctor-slang as “the widowmaker.” I’m lucky to be alive and know I need to make a lot of changes if I want to stay that way. One of the big changes is in diet, and that is a place where I am falling off the rails.
My weight has yo-yo’d a lot since I got home. I find myself eating to bury feelings of anxiety about my health, which is doubly bad. For some reason I have been craving dairy – and have realized that much of what I have eaten in the last week or so has involved stuff that goes with milk. I am not sure if there is something about surviving a heart attack that makes people crave dairy foods, but I need to cut them way, way down.
Exercise is another issue. I have been doing well at cardiac rehab, but the ongoing health concerns have kept my endurance lower than it should be, and the cold weather makes me not want to go outside to walk. The cold air is uncomfortable when exerting myself. I have used the elliptical machine I have at home (many thanks to my sister for it) but the rehab folks tell me to limit my uses to five minutes at a time.
That’s good and bad – good because I need to ease back into using that machine, and bad because I want to do more than I am capable of doing, which is frustrating.
I also have had more anxiety. One night recently I was unable to sleep and felt very panicky as I lay there in the dark. Lucky for me I have a good therapist and will talk with him about it soon. It’s disconcerting to have an anxiety episode, though, and I have a whole new appreciation for the plight of people who have panic attacks.
I need to kick-start my self-management regimen and do better with food, better with exercise regardless of the outdoor temperature, and learn to get my anxiety about the situation under control. I need to remember that people have overcome much worse health problems than mine. What happened to me is serious, but I survived it, and need to remind myself every day that I am fortunate and that I can win out over old habits, bad habits, and inertia.
It’s time for more baby steps forward and fewer backward ones.
Also: I need to shave more often. I think having a more regular routine would be helpful. Two thumbs up for positive changes.